Baptist21 panel live blog

Communications Staff — June 23, 2009

Jon Akin represented Baptist21 and asked the panelists the questions.

I missed the first question for Ed Stetzer.

B21: What is the local church’s role in the Great Commission and foreign missions?

Platt: The local church is the driving force in all of these things. Biblically, the local church is the driving force in a lot of the things that we do as a group of churches together, whether it is missions or theological training together.

I heard Dr. Mohler say at T4G 2006 that if the local church was doing its job right that would radically change how theological education works. I want our church to be a sending church and a church planting church. The purpose of the IMB is to serve the local church in accomplishing the Great Commission instead of the local church farming out the Great Commission.

B21: What partnerships can the local church have with the IMB?

Platt: There are all kinds of things we can do. When we become serious about the Word and making disciples of people then we can start raising up people to go out, people we can send out. Then we can send those people to the IMB.

B21: Pastor Dever you have always done a good job of bringing along younger guys and training guys. How can churches do that, particularly in the SBC?

Dever: Churches need to realize that local churches are supposed to raise up leaders and missionaries. Pastors need to think seriously about this and give significant time to it. Churches need to give money to it. I would challenge pastors to consider … it is great that you give money to missions … I think you should think also about training up leaders.

B21: What is the Great Commission Resurgence and why is it important?

Akin: I am astonished that we are trying to create a fight over the Great Commission. The bottom line is this: lost people matter to God and they should matter to us. It is so encouraging to me to see so many young faces here and at the 9Marks meeting last night. Soon, the baton will be handed to you, young leaders, before you can blink.

Business as usual to reach the lost among Southern Baptists has not been working. I want to apologize to Calvinists for the horrible misrepresentation of your position this morning. That was shameful. If we have a heart for the Lord Jesus, we have to heart for the nation. There is no grand scheme behind the Great Commission Resurgence.

It is really simple: we have to give the Gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation. I don’t want Southern Baptists to be sitting on the sideline when God does what He is going to do. I want to be a part of God is going to do: that is what the Great Commission Resurgence is all about.

B21: If some of what the GCR is calling goes through, some people might lose their jobs. How should we think about that?

Akin: I hope that people don’t lose their jobs or if they do that they would find jobs that better help them fulfill the Great Commission. If shutting down Southeastern Seminary would help advance the Great Commission, then I am fine with that. I have selfish desires like everyone else, but I really want to see the Gospel go to the nations. Whatever that requires of us, we should do.

B21: What is the next step if someone is in support of a GCR?

Mohler: The next step is to be in the hall at 1:50 p.m. and vote for the GCR. It is really important that we get the task force approved at this convention and that the motion be intact because if any part is changed it will not be good.

If there is any motion to move the motion to another body…we don’t want that. It is possible that the motion will move to a vote at 7:30 tonight. We need people in the hall tonight by 7:05 as well, in case the motion comes to the floor before 7:30. We need people to be at the microphones, ready to speak for the motion concerning the GCR task force.

I want to come back to something Danny Akin said. Part of the reason we had a crowd in 1985 during the Conservative Resurgence was because everybody likes a fight…but part of the reason they were there is because they were passionate about the concerns of the Conservative Resurgence.

B21: Pastor Montgomery, you are dually-aligned with the SBC and Acts 29. Why is that advantageous and what can you learn from both groups?

Montgomery: There are many things to learn from both. You have to realize that they are two different animals. The IMB in particular has a great focus in missions in funneling funds to church planting and cooperating with other missions’ agencies. I think we can learn from that. I think the SBC can learn from Acts 29 in partnering around the Gospel and centering on the Gospel (I think this was Montgomery’s point).

B21: Speak to Acts 29 and the controversy between some state conventions and Acts 29.

Mohler: I would exhort students to not look for too much from the SBC. I love the SBC. I don’t want to depreciate a legacy that I gained from SBC churches, which I was born and raised in. The wrong thing about the SBC was it produced a tribal identity that people began to identify with instead of a Gospel centered and Great Commission centered identity.

Don’t look for a tribal identity and fulfillment in the SBC. Look for your fulfillment in the local church. View the SBC as a hub airport where you gather and then go back out.

Acts 29 has many good aspects and does many good things. Acts 29 has a different conception than the SBC, or other denominations, at least right now. I recently met with several Acts 29 pastors and am proud of Sojourn here in Louisville. I think it is wrong to think of either/or with the SBC and Acts 29.

Follow your convictions, stand on your convictions and partner with people – the BF&M says to do this – who you think are doing what ought to be done. Speaking as an SBC entity head, there are some concerns with Acts 29. But I have yet to find an Acts 29 pastor who is not ready and willing to talk about those concerns. I hope that people in the SBC are just as ready to talk. Don’t get angry, please. We have to get over that. Just do what God has called you to do.

Montgomery: One thing that appeals to me about Acts 29 is that it is theologically driven. From my perception, much of what the SBC does now is not theologically driven. Instead, it is pragmatically driven.

Dever: I am thankful, in conversations I have had with Acts 29 pastors in recent years, for what I have learned from and been challenged by them about how much money I am devoting to local church planting. I am very thankful for that challenge and that contribution.

B21: How can young guys be contextual but still deeply theological in their preaching?

Platt: I think we have to be really careful with how we seek to contextualize the Gospel to not let the context drive the text we are preaching. A major trend in preaching today is that application drives the text instead of the text driving application. This is dangerous and results in a man-centered Christianity.

Think about this superstitious prayer we lead people with words that are not found anywhere in Scripture: ask Jesus into your heart, etc. God has promised to bless the preaching of His Word. We are fools to think we are doing God a favor if we leave the Word behind in our preaching.

B21: What is text-driven preaching? Is there a specific method we should have if we are going to be text-driven?

Akin: I have been influenced by our Presbyterian brothers in preaching, men like Bryan Chappell, with his fallen-condition focus and Gospel-centered preaching. I ask what a text teaches about God, fallen man, what I want people to know, what I want them to do and how does the text point to Christ. I appreciate Graeme Goldsworthy, Dennis Johnson, their work on Christ-centered preaching.

I am committed to text-driven preaching. I am partial to book-by-book, verse-by-verse preaching. I have a theological conviction of mine that the Holy Spirit inspired the text the way it is and we should preach it in the order it is in.

With that said, I don’t think you have to preach book-by-book and verse-by-verse to be a biblically faithful preacher. However, I think you are more likely to get off track if you don’t go book-by-book and verse-by-verse.

Mohler: Mohler read a text from Deuteronomy 25 that he said topical preachers are likely to never preach. I am committed to expository preaching, book-by-book and verse-by-verse, because I, sinful Al, would not preach certain texts if I didn’t do that. I want to encourage you to commit yourself to preach through the Scripture and all of the Scripture.

B21: Question via text – I am a pastor: why should I give through the state convention instead of directly to entities and the national convention?

Montgomery: If a guy wanted to do that, I would want to broaden his horizon and tell him that he is forfeiting his opportunity to speak into the situation if he doesn’t give through the state convention. I also think a lot of people don’t know how the structures work.

Mohler: As an SBC employee, I want you to know we couldn’t do what we do without the Cooperative Program and without historic ways that Southern Baptists have cooperated. The reason I am at this panel today, is you need to make every single entity and institution you give to earn that support.

This is not a simple issue. Each state convention is different and this leads to different conversations in each state. It is not right for an SBC entity head to speak to that issue on a state-by-state basis.

Akin: We are in a state where our state convention is growing in giving more money to efforts I think are worth supporting. I am grateful for that. If we are moving in a right direction, then I can buy into it. If it is not, then I have to ask more difficult questions.

Stetzer: I still believe in the CP. I think we have to make some substantive changes. I think if we can come together in the next few years, then as we do so we will have a better allocation approach. I think we are at that tipping point.

I have a stewardship before God, as a local church pastor, to make sure that this funding is being used well. I will not wait forever for things to grow. But I don’t think now is the time to pull out. Now is the time to engage and fix that system.

Platt: Traditionally, the church I pastor has not been strong in giving to the CP. I am wresting with that, but I am wrestling most pointedly with what our local church is doing, than with what our local associations and state conventions are doing. On the local church level, we need to look seriously at how we are using our resources.

You can’t change a budget overnight in a local church and you certainly can’t on association and state convention levels. But I think our own local church is the place to start.

B21: Dr. Mohler, you became a leader at one of our entities at age 33. What are the dangers of becoming a leader at a young age?

Mohler: Everything is contextual and when I became president of Southern at age 33, I guess they figured there was no one else around who was expendable. When I was young, I followed people around and made sure they had everything they needed. Just find joy in doing something that is significant.

Doors always open. Woody Allen says 80 percent of success is just being there. None of us likes meetings, but going to meetings is part of doing things together. Get involved and start doing things.

B21: Dr. Platt, what would be your caution to younger leaders who are looking to be influencers on a large level?

Platt: I look at Christ and I see that He left with around 120 people following Him. Christ’s strategy was not bigger and better – at least initially. Of course, His kingdom would grow. I see the advancement of the kingdom in the multiplication of men into other men. I want to do that.

Montgomery: There needs to be humility on both ends. When I started this church plant at age 24, I was arrogant in many ways and I needed to repent. You should repent if you are not honoring the generation that went before you.

Older leaders also need humility in letting younger men make mistakes, fail and sin. They need to lovingly confront, give younger men room and receive them graciously when they come back humbly and repentantly.

B21: What are some blind spots we have in the SBC right now?

Akin: We have to not forget how sinful we are and that we are susceptible to having blind spots. We have to keep in mind who we are apart from Christ. We also have to strive to Gospel-centered and Word-driven. We have to continually let the Word reform us and reshape us. If we let all the Word do its work on us, then we reduce the possibility of having blind spots.

Mohler: I think we have to ruthlessly-interrogate each other on if we are being Scripture-shaped, formed and saturated in our ministries.

Dever: Three tips to pastors on revealing your own blind spots:

1. Preach expositionally.

2. Be suspicious of creativity. Think about how selfish creativity can be. Creativity can be good, but there can be forms of creativity that are just specific to us.

3. Trot out your ideas in different contexts. Read historians and theologians who lived in different contexts and different cultures. Get to know pastors who are in different traditions as you. Get to know pastors in different denominational contexts.

B21: How do we partner with guys who may not be deeply committed to theology and exposition?

Stetzer: We have to be committed to text-driven preaching. I think it is a mistake to not cooperate with guys who do not preach by book-by-book and verse-by-verse. I don’t always preach book-by-book and verse-by-verse. I just want to make sure the Bible drives our preaching. If there is something outside our confession of faith, the BF&M, then we need to be careful with our language toward others, and how hard we seek to persuade others, on such issues.

B21: Is there a generation gap in the SBC or just an ideologically gap?

Dever: Both (he briefly elaborated on this answer).

Stetzer: This is not an age issue. There is an ideological divide. We preached out a large group of young pastors of contemporary churches because we did not welcome then in.

B21: How can you welcome people with generational or ideological differences?

Akin: You need to drive people to the Word. For example, on music you want to do good music in a good way. This becomes subjective, because people have different opinions on music styles. John Piper says that anything that detracts of distracts from the cross of Christ and the Gospel should be ruled out. I think this is helpful. This provides parameters to your creativity.

B21: Where should we go after this conversation?

Platt: We should really concentrate on loving people and shepherding them. If we give ourselves to what Christ said is most important, loving God and loving people, then we will be in a good place.

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